One of the things I love most about Grinnell College is its unique commitment to social and political activism. Iowa's special position as an important swing state places it in the forefront of national politics, making Grinnell College a fascinating place to view the political process. This year's election is the first one I have been able to vote in, and it's really exciting to take part in it in Iowa. There are far more political events here than there would be back home in New York, making it a far more personal experience. Throughout this election season, there have been plenty of opportunities for students to get involved around campus and the surrounding community, through events such as voter registration drives, neighborhood canvassing, and even a visit from Vice President Joe Biden.
As exciting as these opportunities are, they are indicative of only a small part of Grinnell's activist community. The interests of Grinnell students extend far beyond the realm of presidential politics, as several campus events this semester have shown. This month, Grinnell College welcomed David Beckmann, recipient of the 2010 World Food Prize for his contributions towards combating food insecurity through his organization "Bread for the World". While at Grinnell, he gave a talk entitled "Exodus from Hunger: Changing the Politics of Hunger," initiating a campus-wide dialogue regarding the politics of our local and global food systems, specifically in relation to the challenges to providing equitable food distribution in developing countries. This is an especially important topic considering Grinnell's location in a vital agricultural region, as food policies (e.g. agricultural subsidies) implemented here can have important global consequences. Beckmann's visit culminated in a student-organized community meal with the guest speaker, an example of how political and social activism manifests itself in unique ways in the Grinnell community.